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NFL Draft

How Alabama’s Draft-Eligible Prospects Performed vs Texas A&M

  • The Draft Network
  • October 4, 2020
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After an impressive season-opening showing against Missouri, Alabama was back in action on Saturday against Texas A&M. A matchup that has plenty of build up, but it was the Crimson Tide who once again prevailed in a 52-24 victory on Saturday. A program that's notoriously labeled as an NFL factory, the team is once again loaded across the board. With lots of talent on display against the Aggies, there were a few prospects who managed to catch my eye throughout the contest.

Mac Jones

After studying Jones this summer, I came away pleasantly surprised with how advanced his game was for a player that saw his first glimpse of extended action following the season-ending injury to Tua Tagovailoa. Overall, the Auburn and Michigan games were the two that I came away the most impressed from after watching Jones. It’s important to watch him with tempered expectations. While he showed signs of promise last season, he’s an ideal late-round option for teams searching for a long-term backup—one that could come in and keep the ship afloat. While he has limited arm strength, he’s very decisive with knowing where to go with the ball, but one of the more underrated aspects of his game is how well he maneuvers within the pocket.

Against Texas A&M, those traits were once again on display. His first standout moment of the game came on a 78-yard touchdown toss down the right sideline that was well placed. Throwing the ball on a line, it was perfectly placed and kept the receiver, John Metchie, in stride in order to finish with an explosive play resulting in six points. His second long touchdown score came in the third-quarter with a 87-yard throw to Jaylen Waddle, the fifth-longest scoring hookup in program history. Demonstrating a slight pump fake in order to influence the safety, he threw the ball close to 40 yards down the field and let the speedy wideout finish the rest. Jones finished the afternoon 20-of-27 for 435 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. 

Najee Harris 

https://twitter.com/chris_hummer/status/1312494406298001410?s=20

With 43 yards on 12 carries to go along with two touchdowns, it was a relatively light day at the office for Harris from a production standpoint. Adding two more scores to his career total, he’s now up to 25, which all have come inside the red zone. Once the ball gets inside of the 25-yard line, Harris is known as the ultimate finisher, as it’s basically a guarantee for him to find a way in the end zone. What makes the senior rusher so unique is his combination of patience, strength, sheer determination, and receiving skills. His ability to catch out of the backfield was on full display as the team ran a wheel route to showcase his abilities in that department. Harris’ versatility gives him a strong case to be in the conversation to be the top draft-eligible running back in the country alongside Clemson’s Travis Etienne.

Jaylen Waddle

With former LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase opting out of the season and the last images that we’ve seen of him becoming more distant every week combined with Waddle making highlight reel plays weekly, the WR1 arguments will only continue to grow. Waddle’s explosiveness, game-breaking ability and continued maturation as a pass-catcher have helped catapult him as the go-to option for the Tide offense after being the fourth player on the totem pole only a season ago. After playing mostly in the slot as a complementary piece as a sophomore, he has already received more reps on the outside. His ability to crack open a game during any random moment was seen on the 87-yard touchdown reception as he finished with five catches for 142 yards and that lone score.

An extreme asset to quarterbacks, he plays the game with a jetpack because of the amount of separation that he’s able to create within route stems and with how he’s able to distance himself from defenders after the catch. With Chase already going through preparations for the 2021 draft, Waddle constantly continues to put new film out there showing that he’s capable of winning from both the inside and outside—plus the value that he brings as a return specialist. The debates about who the top receiver in the class will be one that will be discussed frequently.

DeVonta Smith

The leader in receiving yards a season ago among the big four, it came as a bit of a surprise to see Smith return to school. Now back as part of a dynamic 1-2 punch alongside Waddle, the senior wideout continued to build on an impressive resume. The slinky wideout showed off his intriguing traits with a toe-tap two-yard touchdown catch just prior to heading into the locker room to give the Crimson Tide a commanding 35-14 lead. The biggest concern with Smith will be his frame, as he has a slinky build.

Without the capacity to add much muscle mass, his body is about as maxed out as it will be as he has a naturally skinny build that won’t allow him to pack on much more weight. Comfort with his weight will be the biggest question that scouts will ask themselves going forward, but he plays much stronger than his frame indicates. One of the better parts about Smith’s game is his ability to haul in passes no matter the traffic that surrounds him and having the field awareness to still get his feet inbounds, as shown on the touchdown catch. He finished six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.

Christian Barmore

After missing the season-opening game against Missouri with a knee (right) injury, Barmore returned against Texas A&M. With a sleeve over his injured knee, it was a bit of a mixed bag from him during his debut. After only playing in 269 snaps in 2019, he came into the season expected to be a starter along the interior. He's still not starting, but he managed to play a heavy amount of snaps against the Aggies. The first seen pressure created by Barmore didn’t come until the middle of the third quarter on Kellen Mond. Up until that point, he struggled to unstick from blockers and his rush plans looked stale. It looked like a player that was seeing his first game action of the season. Strength, quickness, and natural athleticism are three traits that his entire playing style is predicated upon in order to generate pressure, but all of them failed to appear consistently during his first game of the season. Still with an entire season to play, he has ample amounts of opportunities in order to show flashes of the player that we saw down the back stretch of last season.

Dylan Moses

After missing last season with a torn ACL, much was anticipated from Moses during his 2019 debut last week against Missouri. He didn’t disappoint, as he collected eight tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Now transitioning to MIKE linebacker, he displayed awareness and was constantly active as a run defender. With closing speed being one of his better assets, he was able to suffocate runs. Exhibiting so much promise during his first game back, Moses showed lots of signs of rust against Texas A&M. His biggest struggles came in coverage. During the opening moments of the second quarter, he was beaten on a double-move pass that slipped the tight end down the middle of the field—which went on to tie the game 14-14. Some of his warts during the 2018 season appeared where he struggled to disengage from blockers that were able to square him up cleanly as well as having poor eye discipline against some passing concepts. Still working his way back from the injury combined with playing in a new alignment, it’s fair to expect some inconsistency from Moses, but challenges against the pass is an area that he will need to clean up in the future in order to be reliable as a three-down linebacker.

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